Books in quarantine: What Windsor Public Library is doing to safely reopen

You might want to be more selective the next time you grab a book off a shelf in a Windsor Public Library.

Three of the city's branches fully reopened Monday

Books used by patrons will be quarantined for 72 hours before returning to the shelf or handed off to another person. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

You might want to be more selective the next time you grab a book off a shelf in a Windsor Public Library.

Three of the city's library branches reopened Monday, reuniting library-goers with books and services for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

But there's some new protocols in place, one of which requires any books touched by users to be placed in quarantine for 72 hours before being returned to its shelf or given to another person. 

"[We're] trying hard to make sure that the environment people are coming back to is a safe one and hopefully make people feel comfortable about coming back to the library again," said Windsor Public Library's manager of public services Adam Craig. 

While libraries across the city have offered some services during the pandemic, such as limited access to computers, along with curbside pickup and home delivery of books, locals will now be allowed to walk in and browse or work in the space, Craig said. 

Week-long trial run

The three locations opening under a week-long trial run include the Central branch at the Paul Martin building, Budimir Public Library on Grand Marais Road and Riverside Public Library on Wyandotte Street East. 

"For some folks in the community, [coming to the library] is a very important part of their day-to-day routine," Craig said. "A library fills a certain hole in a community, whether it's entertainment or educational purposes. The reasons people find to come to their library ... are important to them."

Windsor Public Library's manager of public services Adam Craig says the service is doing its best to provide a safe space that the community can enjoy and use once again. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Should the reopening of the first three branches go well, Craig said all other branches will open at the same capacity on Sept. 8, noting that students may need to use their space as online learning begins. 

Craig said many new measures will be in place at each location to ensure the health and safety of staff and library-users. Some of these include: 

  • Having people self-screen before visiting a branch. 
  • Limiting the number of people in each building.
  • Providing hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and masks.
  • Requiring everyone in the building to wear masks at all times. 
  • Putting physical distancing protocols in place. 
  • Having enhanced cleaning by staff. 
  • Placing books touched by users or returned by users in quarantine for 72 hours. 

'Contact tracing without contact tracing'

The library doesn't plan to take down contact information of the people who use its facilities for contact tracing purposes, said Craig, adding that they feel it's not necessary. The library already has contact information of anyone who uses a library card during their visit or access a computer with their login. 

It's like "contact tracing without contact tracing," he said. 

"In the terrible event such as an outbreak we would be able to contact anybody that was in the library," Craig said. "In those situations we would defer to the best practices of our local health unit."

During the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's daily COVID-19 briefing Monday, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said best practices means having a log of everyone who comes into the library, whether or not they take out materials, or use a computer.

"It's always a good idea to keep track of who's coming to the facility in case of any potential exposure and this is one of these best practices that we have put forward in many of our guidance documents," Ahmed said. 

At locations resuming full services, the library has said that curbside pickup and home delivery will no longer take place. They are also not providing time limits for those using their services.


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